DENVER — For the first time, Luis Garcia's father spoke publicly Friday about the unimaginable loss of his 16-year-old son, who was shot and killed near Denver East High School in February.
Our partners at the Denver Post report the student's family accuses Denver Public Schools, district leaders and the city of negligence in failing to protect students- including by removing armed police from the school. An attorney representing the family made the allegations in a legal notice preceding an anticipated wrongful-death lawsuit.
"When we talk to the police, we ask why there was no security at the school. They told us the school board didn't want to give any tickets to students that would be selling or doing drugs. They are taking care of those kids, but who is taking care of our kids? The kids that go to school, that work, that actually do sports, the good kids. Who takes care of them?" Luis' father Santos Garcia said Friday.
Luis Garcia was gunned down while inside a parked car near the school on the afternoon of Feb. 13. He was taken to the hospital with a "very poor prognosis" and died at Denver Health after a 17-day fight for his life.
"The day he got shot, after surgery, the superintendent, Dr. Alex Marerro, a stranger to us, one of the people that I think failed my brother, came to the hospital and asked to see him and, 'What’s wrong with that?' The entitlement he had to even ask, when not even his siblings were allowed to see him. That was the last time I personally saw him show up for my brother," Jovana Garcia, Luis' older sister said Friday.
Two days after Garcia’s death, students walked out of East High School and marched to the Colorado State Capitol to demand change, speaking with lawmakers about what they would like to see done.
Then during a city council meeting on Feb. 16., a group of students called for enhanced cameras and security measures, school resource officers and limited access to campus during school hours.
Two weeks later, a handful of students sat through hours of contentious debate in a Colorado Senate committee hearing to testify in favor of a bill that would add a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases in the state.
A little more than a month later, two Denver East deans were shotat school.
"The worst part is that weeks after my brother passed, there was an incident where two adults were injured. Injured, not dead. And then they wanted change. Was Luis' life not enough?" said Jovana.
Denver Public Schools released the first draft of its school safety plan at the beginning of May.It provided an initial proposal for school resource officers and weapon detection technology for DPS schools.
DPS will gather feedback through May 21, a second draft will be released on May 26, and then feedback will be gathered through June 4. The plan will be finalized on June 23 and the DPS Board of Education will review it on June 30.
In filing the 180-day notice of litigation, "We’re looking in reality for three things: action, answers and accountability. Answers- how could this happen. Action- what is Denver Public Schools, the school board going to do in the future to avert a tragedy such as this? Accountability- well I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. The Garcias want those who they believe are responsible to be held accountable for the murder of Luis Garcia in front of East High School," Matthew Barringer, the attorney representing Luis' family, said Friday.
Above all, the Garcia family emphasizes they don't want any other family to go through this.
"Life without him will never be the same. How can we be fully happy knowing he’s gone? We went from sharing a room all our lives to not having our brother at all. This is not fair. How can I even think about healing or trying to be okay knowing this could happen again, when there could be another family in our situation?" Jovana said Friday.